5 Incredible Advances in Robotics and Androids

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Humans have long had a love/hate relationship with robots. For every lovable robot, like R2-D2 of Star Wars fame, or the robot in the campy 1960s TV series Lost in Space (Danger, Will Robinson!), there have been evil robots and humanoids we’ve feared, liked the replicants in the classic 1982 film Blade Runner. Then there’s the Terminator series, where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “character” went from feared in the first movie to beloved in the sequels. But as we watched these movies and shows, very few people probably thought such advances in robotics would occur in their lifetime. Well, we were wrong. One day, in the not-too-distant future, human-like androids will likely walk among us undetected, acting like humans. Watching the following videos, you can see that technology in this field has come much further than you imagined.


5. Big Plans For Jules

Jules, the android in this video, is the creation of Hanson Robotics, a firm founded in 2003. The firm has some ambitious goals, given its mission statement, to “awaken intelligent robotic beings, grant them sparks of consciousness and creativity, and distribute these beings and their constituent technologies into the world.” Jules boasts amazing life-like lip movements. Although clearly working in part with scripted dialog, how long will it be before a robot can respond to complex questions, based on real-time processing?


4. Male and Female Robots

Granted, the facial expressions, lip movements, voice, etc. need a good bit of work, but the facial features of these androids are amazingly human-like. How much more realistic will their predecessors be five, 10 or 20 years from now?


3. An Android Teacher?

Would you trust an android to teach your child? You may not have to worry about that issue, but you almost certainly will face this question: Would you trust an android to teach your grandchild?


2. Robot’s Awkward Walk Shows Shortcomings

In the Terminator movie series, robots walk among the populace undetected. Given today’s robotics technology, that won’t happen anytime soon, as this is the state of the art in robot walking in 2012: Japan’s HRP 4. Designing an android with very realistic facial features is far easier than designing a robot capable of smoothly doing something we take for granted — walking.


1. Android Discusses World Domination Plans

This is an amazing look at a Hanson Robotics android using a mix of preprogrammed intelligence and real-time computations to converse with an interviewer. The android’s name, Philip, honors the memory of science fiction author Philip K. Dick, whose novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? inspired the classic science-fiction film Blade Runner. The interview raises some interesting questions about a future where robots may require human interaction and love to feel emotionally secure. The interviewer’s questions about whether robots will one day take over the world (at the video’s 2:30 mark) elicit some humorous responses that were almost certainly preprogrammed … or did the android make those plans himself?


One More: Human Or Android?

A clever, thought-provoking video that shows how the lines will one day be blurred between humans and androids.


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• 10 Robots on the Cutting Edge of Technology

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